Directed by Steven Brill (The Do-Over; Sandy Wexler) — Screenplay by Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler.
When Adam Sandler was campaigning during the last awards-season for his performance in the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems, he made a threat to the Academy and the film community as a whole. Sandler remarked that if he were to not get an Oscar nomination, then he would purposefully make a movie that was ‘so bad’ to make us all pay. Well, here we are. Sandler was not nominated for his phenomenal performance in Uncut Gems. Steven Brill’s Hubie Halloween, which was, of course, filmed prior to the Oscar ceremony in question, is Sandler’s first film since he missed out on a deserved Oscar-nomination. And, frankly, this film is not the worst straight-to-Netflix film that Sandler has made for the streaming service. In fact, if he keeps on churning out straight-to-Netflix films such as this one, even though it’s certainly not good, then I’ll take it, in return for an Oscar-worthy Sandler-performance every other year.
Steven Brill’s Hubie Halloween is a comedy about the perennially bullied grown man Hubie Dubois (played by Adam Sandler) and his attempt to save the day on his favorite holiday of the year: All Hallow’s Eve. Hubie is a scaredy-cat who spends his days trying to make his local community in Salem, Massachusetts safe, while its inhabitants make jokes at his expense. Hubie, who lives with his mother (played by June Squibb), still has a secret crush on his old classmate, Violet Valentine (played by Julie Bowen), and when he’s not working at a deli, spending time with his mother, or reporting bad behavior to the local law enforcement, he thinks back to his High School days, when he was voted ‘most likely to marry his pillow.’ But soon the local community may need their Official Halloween Helper, since a werewolf may be on the loose at the very same time that a dangerous inmate has escaped from the local mental institution.
Although these films can sometimes be frustrating, I prefer when Adam Sandler’s Straight-to-Netflix films are themed. The Ridiculous Six was a western, Murder Mystery was, well, a murder mystery, and now Hubie Halloween is a comedy horror flick. Now, let’s hope he’ll make a Christmas movie soon. I’d certainly be interested. Again, sometimes these films just don’t work, though. I had a lot of problems with The Ridiculous Six, and, even though it’s probably one of the better Straight-to-Netflix Sandler-comedies, Murder Mystery wasn’t exactly a ‘good movie.’ When it comes to Hubie Halloween, it’s certainly more along the lines of Murder Mystery than The Ridiculous Six, which means that, although it wasn’t very good, I enjoyed myself when I watched the film. Of course, it helps that the message at the center of this film is very nice and refreshingly kind. This is a comedy horror film about not bullying. It’s a nice message that you’d probably be more likely to expect from a Paddington-film, but this is nowhere near being as good as a Paddington-film.
Its main selling point is probably the fact that the film is a Halloween-themed comedy, but I also think that one of the more entertaining aspects of this flick is its many cameos. There are so many SNL-alums and Sandler friends in this movie that it can become quite fun trying to guess how someone like Rob Schneider will make an appearance, for example. And, yes, this is a pretty good cast. Ray Liotta, Shaquille O’Neal, and June Squibb all make appearances in the film, and some of their performances are quite fun. This is especially true of the way in which Shaquille O’Neal makes an appearance. I got the biggest laughs out of June Squibb and Steve Buscemi’s scenes. It is a hoot watching Steve Buscemi act as if he’s a werewolf, and it is also somewhat fun to watch Squibb sport T-shirts with inappropriate writing on them.
But there are more misses than hits when it comes to the film’s comedy. Some of its opening scenes feature Hubie Dubois projectile vomiting after eating raw eggs while bicycling, and, in general, the comedy in Hubie Halloween is best described as pratfall, gross-out humor with an overabundance of scenes in which Hubie overreacts to Halloween costumes. That said, Hubie’s accent did bring back happy memories from when I watched Sandler’s earlier works as a teenager.
Steven Brill’s Hubie Halloween, which is dedicated to Cameron Boyce’s memory, is one of the best Straight-to-Netflix Sandler-comedies. That may not be a very high bar to clear, but it probably does mean that it will appeal to, and satisfy, quite a lot of Adam Sandler fans. Hopefully, Sandler’s next dramatic performance is just around the corner.
5.5 out of 10
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.
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